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Queen’s honours list the most progressive since 1975

12th June , 2017
  • As seen on The Age
  • Words by Damien Murphy

The 2017 Queen’s Birthday honours list is the most progressive in Australian history with the top award going to advocates of climate change, same sex-marriage, philanthropists and the nation’s leading actress.

Cate Blanchett was made a companion in the general division of the Order of Australia (AC) in recognition of service to the performing arts as an international stage and screen actor, director of artistic organisations, role model for women and her support for humanitarian and environmental causes.

Ross Garnaut​, economist and climate change and long-time adviser to government, was made a companion (AC) in recognition of his economic leadership on energy efficiency and climate change policy and the development of Australia-Asia Pacific relations.

Professor Garnaut, 71,  received an AO in 1993 for his role in restructuring the Australian economy as Bob Hawke’s senior economic adviser.

“I’m very pleased to be the recipient of an award that also both honours the work of many people and recognises the change that climate and the environment have traversed over the past decade,” he said on Sunday.

“As I said when delivering the Climate Change Review in 2008, it takes an old dog for a hard road and this has been a hard road for a lot of people.”

Prof Garnaut said he hoped that Australia would take its place in the world in combatting the effects of climate change.

Another AC recipient who has been a forceful proponent of the need for society to confront climate change was ANU and Princeton political philosopher Philip Pettit.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce, a high profile advocate of marriage equality, also received the top gong.

In business, ACs went to BHP chair Jac Nasser, Melbourne philanthropist and shopping centre magnate John Gandel Sydney philanthropist and manufacturer Michael Crouch and the South Australian winemaker Peter Gago​.

ACs were also conferred upon Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, medical researchers John Shine (Sydney) and Peter Colman (Melbourne),West Australian chief scientist Peter Klinken​ and Queenslander Ian O’Connor​, who was recognised for services to tertiary education and child welfare.

Duffield Professor of Astronomy in the research school of astronomy and astrophysics at the Mount Stromlo Observatory Ken Freeman and Melbourne anti-death penalty lawyer and campaigner Julian McMahon also received ACs.

Among other Queens’s Birthday honours recipients:

Fashion designer Collette Dinnigan​ and public sector executive and AFL commissioner Gabrielle​ Trainor​ were given AOs.

Politicians to be honoured included former NSW federal Labor MP and former minister for aboriginal affairs  Robert Tickner​ who received an AO while AMs went to former Labor federal MP Daryl Melham​ and former State Liberal MPs John Hannaford and Peta Seaton. The late National federal and state MP Ian Robinson was given an OAM.

Still with politics, the ABC psephologist and commentator, Antony Green was appointed AO for services to broadcast media.

And NSW LBGTQI​ campaigners, the late Peter Bonsall-Boone and Peter De Waal, received AMs.

In the arts, the director of Bangarra​ Dance Theatre Stephen Page was made an officer of the Order of Australia (AO). So too was the head of Sony Music Denis Handlin​.

The actress Deborah Mailman, film and television director Don Crombie, former Australian Ballet School director Marilyn Rowe, playwright John Romeril​ Melbourne comedy impresario Greg Hocking and reality TV mogul Mark Fennessy all received AMs. Graham Kennedy’s gag writer Mike McColl Jones was made a member (OAM).

The founder of Palace Cinemas, Antonio Zeccola, was appointed AM as did the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s former concertmaster Dene Olding.

Joining Hamlin in recognition for pop music were rock promoters Michael Coppel​ and Paul Dainty(AMs). Record producer Robert “Rob E.G.” Porter (who recorded the 1963 hit 55 Days at Peking and produced Daddy Cool) and the late owner of the jazz outlet Swaggie Records Neville Sherburn​ both received OAMs.

In sport, the late Bernard “Midget” Farrelly (1964 world surfboard champion) and yachtsman Syd Fischer received  AMs.

Among other recipients:

Victorian barrister Brian Bourke (AM) who was a member of the legal team defending the last man to be hanged in Australia, Ronald Ryan 50 years ago.

Colin Hodges of Forbes, NSW, a race caller for more than 40 years, was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) as was Des Turner of Banoora Point, northern NSW, for services to snooker.

Roger Cooper honorary curator of the Holbrook Submarine Museum in the landlocked NSW riverina town, received an OAM for services to maritime history and to the community.

Paddington NSW Jane Austen expert Susannah​ Fullerton received an OAM for services to literature.

Nine hundred and sixty-eight people were honoured. Women received about 30.6 per cent of the awards.

Announcing the honours, Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove said: “Since 1975, these awards have helped to define, encourage and reinforce Australian goals and values.

“They identify role models who give without thought of recognition or personal gain.

“Today’s recipients now join the company of almost 50,000 women and men whose meritorious and brave actions have enriched our community and our lives.

“Their qualities – compassion, dedication, generosity, selflessness, tolerance, and energetic ambition – inspire and motivate us.”

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